Pilot Jobs in Australia

There are several options for pilot jobs in Australia including working with the airlines, charters and medivac. So are pilots in demand in Australia and what do the different pilot jobs involve exactly?

Introduction

After a long journey, you are at long last a Commercial Pilot and you are job hunting. Australia looks like a good place for a job in the aviation industry. Good weather, great beaches, and massive distances between cities. It seems to be a pilot’s dream but is the land down under perhaps not as kind to pilots as may initially seem?

I will discuss pilot jobs, pilot shortage, and the current market to assess whether flying jobs in Australia is all that it sets out to be.

Are Pilots in demand in Australia?

Yes, pilots are in demand in Australia.

One of the best gauges of whether a certain profession is in demand is to find out how difficult it would be for a person in that profession to obtain a visa. If the government allows you to come to Australia and work as a pilot, then it means that the government assesses that there is a need for pilots. The official skills shortage website does have pilots qualifying for multiple roles, including the 482 skills shortage visa.

pilot jobs in australia, jetstar
Australia, like the rest of the world, has a steadily increasing demand for air travel

There are however certain conditions, the chief being a caveat that states the shortage exists in regional areas. The official outlook from the Australian government states pilots are in demand in regional areas, but keep in mind that so are pastors, school teachers, plumbers, and fruit pickers.

Pilot demand is also directly linked to flying requirements. Australia, like the rest of the world, has a steadily increasing demand for air travel – post-COVID holidays, trips, business, and emigration all playing a part. This increase in demand for flying results in an increased demand for pilots. The fact that many people still fall sick with COVID – including flight and cabin crews, has put the airline industry under pressure, meaning more flight training as well as crew training where possible.

Another factor that is to be kept in mind is the shortage of training captains. New airline pilots are required to fly with appropriately qualified airline training captains for a set number of hours before they can operate on their own. This shortage of training pilot captains results in an airline company, even having hired many young pilots, not necessarily being able to utilize them.

“Some 55% of pilots surveyed said they wouldn’t recommend the career to young people, almost double the figure before the pandemic, while 56% said they’re considering changing jobs in the next 12 months.”

Angus whitley – bloomberg.com

Whilst discussing flight training, it is important to note that Australia used to train many foreign pilots. The return of foreign students to Australia post-Covid has been slow, and the demand for instructors has not yet fully returned.

If giving flight instruction is a role that pilots consider, flying with RA Aus is also an option. It is the recreational leg of Australian flying and is limited to aircraft less than 600kg – soon to be increased to 760kg.

Can a foreign pilot work in Australia?

Foreign pilots can find work in Australia and often do. Due to flying being a highly regulated activity, there will be quite a bit of administration and/or testing involved. The basic fact is that a pilot needs a license that is recognized by the state to operate in Australia.

The easiest way to get work in Australia is to do all your training in Australia. As a foreigner, you will possess a full Australian license, all the endorsements and ratings are Australian.

Pilots that have a license from other countries, need to have their qualifications verified by CASA. This process can be found on their website – CASA. There are two distinct scenarios – short-term and long-term.

Pilots need to undergo conversion exams and flight tests before working as a pilot in Australia. This conversion process differs from pilot to pilot and country to country. Certain countries have easier conversion processes than others, but the process is much the same.

Pilots wanting to work for a short period in a specific role can obtain a certificate of validation. This is limited to a 12month stay.

For long-term work in Australia, a pilot needs to convert his licenses and ratings to the Australian equivalent. This is not always straightforward, as Australia considers ratings somewhat different than for example the US, Europe, or ICAO. The basic concept is that one must pass the theory component (in the form of written exams) and then do training, followed by a flight test and pilot assessment. Only after the completion of the flight test, will a foreign pilot be considered to have obtained the required qualifications.

If one wants to follow the RA Aus route, one can apply for conversion through an appropriate flight school – RA Aus tends to make the conversion process simpler than CASA. Details for RA Aus can be found on their website. RA Aus

How do you get a job as a pilot in Australia?

When looking for a job as a pilot in Australia, one needs to talk about the different roles and I want to discuss four distinct roles – airlines, charters, small plane application, and training. On a more general note, SEEK is one of the biggest job advertising websites in Australia and is the best place to start searching for pilot jobs in Australia.

Airlines in Australia have their recruitment web pages and use these primarily when recruiting. Minimum requirements, vacant roles, and other information pertinent to hiring are found on these specific websites. When recruiting for specific roles, Airlines might also make use of online profile sites such as LinkedIn. 

The second type of pilot job commonly found in Australia is the charter/part 135 operations. There are many charter operations throughout Australia, and these often hire pilots from nearby flight schools, or via webpages such as the AFAP (Australian Federation of Air Pilots) job portals, LinkedIn or even Facebook sites.

pilot jobs in australia, sydney
Australia has great weather, decent distances between major cities and great working conditions

Australia has a big regional aviation sector that often has jobs for low-time pilots. These jobs are generally situated in the Northern Territories and Western Australia. These jobs are often not advertised anywhere and many prospective pilots go “up north” to meet with operators, and get hired on the spot.

Instruction jobs are also relatively common – especially for an experienced flying instructor. New instructors might struggle to find employment initially, and the best practice would be to do one’s flight training with a flight school that can offer employment afterward. These jobs can be found on the AFAP website and Facebook groups.

Once you have identified the job you want to apply for, it is important to prove to prospective employers that you are keen to work for them.

What are the different pilot jobs in Australia?

Airlines:

Qantas, Regional Express, Jetstar and Virgin Airlines

I used Qantas requirements which can be found here – Qantas. All Australian ATPL exams must be passed, 700hrs total time, 250 hours on Multi Engine or Turbine Aircraft, Class 1 medical.  Requirements among airlines might differ slightly, but these roles are for experienced pilots.

pilot jobs in australia, qantas
Airlines in Australia have their recruitment web pages and use these primarily when recruiting. Minimum requirements, vacant roles, and other information pertinent to hiring are found on these specific websites.

Charters:

Corporate/executive charters are quite common in Australia and the requirements to join these organizations are often higher than the requirements of Airlines.

Small charters are found in regional areas, having a multi-engine type rating and around 300hours of total time should be sufficient to get a job. Many of these jobs are not advertised.

Instruction:

If a pilot has an instructor rating, they should be able to get a job in Australia. Especially in regional areas.

Medivacs:

Medical flights are very common in Australia and the Royal Flying Doctors and Careflight are two of the bigger organizations that are known to deliver high-quality service. Pilot flying hour requirements tend to be high, but ATPL subjects are not required.

“Pilots are commonly associated with flying for major airlines and regular public transport however there are plenty more opportunities in the aviation industry. There are some sport pilots or those that fly as a hobby including skydiving or scenic flights, whilst others gain experience in the military or as a certified flight instructor.”

Ken – Proaviationtips.com/typesofpilots
pilot jobs in australia, uluru
Australia has a big regional aviation sector that often has jobs for low-time pilots. These jobs are generally situated in the Northern Territories and Western Australia

How many pilots are unemployed in Australia?

There is very little clear information on pilot unemployment currently.

Officially Australia has the lowest unemployment in years – with employment estimated to be as low as 3.5% Unemployment. This is across a broad spectrum though and there is anecdotal evidence that indicates there are still many pilots that are not yet back in flying jobs.

One piece of evidence is the experience requirements for relatively “simple” roles. i.e. there are so many pilots looking for jobs, that even small charter operations have airline-like experience requirements.

The other evidence that pilots are still looking for work, is the commentary one reads on pilot forums. It seems there are many ex-airline pilots still looking for work.

Many pilots also changed careers during the pandemic and stopped flying for two years. Getting back into flying takes time and many pilots have not yet finished all the recurrency training required but are slowly and surely working towards getting back in the air.

Lastly, many pilots retired during the pandemic. These pilots no longer fly for airlines but get involved in aeroclubs and part-time instruction, making instructor roles harder to come by.

According to a report by Bloomberg in January 2022, around a third of pilots are not flying currently.

The official statistic might indicate that the demand for pilots outweighs the supply, but there are still many pilots looking for work. You can search jobs on SEEK here.

How much do Australian pilots get paid?

The average salary for a pilot in Australia is AUD$ 80 to 130K according to SEEK.

Most Airline pilots earn salaries over the average and can live comfortably in Australia. They often get bonuses and other perks as well.

All pilots are generally well paid in Australia.

The one aspect of piloting where salaries are not great is in training. Instructors that start often work for hourly rates and only get paid when working. Instructors can upgrade quickly and many pilots with grade 2 and grade 1 endorsements end up making similar salaries to a first officer with an airline.

Conclusion

Flying in Australia has many benefits, including relatively good pay, varied flying opportunities, and official demand for the pilot. Australia is however also a relatively expensive country and pilots must consider the cost of moving to Australia, converting licenses, and the competition that exists for jobs. Flying jobs in Australia are becoming more and more available, but one will need patience, as well as the appropriate training. The demand is not yet as great as it is forecast to be.

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eBusiness Institute

Ken

Ken is a passionate aviator, a professional pilot and flight instructor. He has over 17 years of flight experience across hundreds of aircraft ranging from recreational, aerobatic, historic, commercial and military aircraft, training hundreds of students along the way. Find out more.

Ken has 93 posts and counting. See all posts by Ken

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